An Asian American group in Los Angeles Saturday announced its opposition to a proposed "English only" amendment to immigration reform legislation, calling the plan "short-sighted."
The Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California joined a national group of Asian American groups opposing the proposal by Congress to make English a "national language."
Many politicians in Congress support efforts to make immigrants learn English in order to qualify for citizenship.
U.S. Senate last week approved a measure to make English the national language of the United States after lawmakers who led the effort said it would promote national unity.
But opponents said such a move would prevent limited English speakers from getting language assistance required by an executive order signed by former President Bill Clinton.
"The current effort to mandate English as the nation's only language is short-sighted," said Karin Wang, an official of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.
"In an increasingly globalized economy and culture, our nation should be encouraging Americans to be multilingual," she said.
Wang's comment was part of a joint statement from multiple California-based groups, which said that almost two thirds of Asian American population in California speak English "very well" and that others have limited skills.
Some 15 percent of native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have limited English skills, they said.
If the amendment were included as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill, it would have a tremendous detrimental impact on Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, according to the joint statement.
"The ability to access services regardless of the ability to speak English is intimately related to an individual's right to be free from discrimination based on national origin," the statement said.